Dallas Cowboys' Most-Likely Postseason Award Candidates for 2014 Season
While the Dallas Cowboys aren't necessarily viewed as a team ripe with league wide award candidates, they still manage to happen to have a few. The loss of team leaders and former Pro Bowlers like DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher will give other returning players the opportunity to step up and get recognition.
For example, if Ware was still on the Cowboys, DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford wouldn't have as great an opportunity to make a serious impact.
On offense, it is a little easier to predict which players have opportunities for league-wide regular-season awards.
To win an award like MVP, Offensive Player of the Year or Defensive Player of the Year a player needs to have some notoriety coming into the season. Very rarely, if ever, does a player come out of nowhere to win those accolades.
With that said, here are the Cowboys with a shot at capturing some of these awards.
Most Valuable Player: Tony Romo
As recent history has shown, the Most Valuable Player award usually goes to a quarterback. There has only been two non-quarterbacks win since 2006, Adrian Peterson in 2012 and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.
Thus, the most likely Cowboys to win the MVP award is Tony Romo.
Romo will not only need to have a career year statistically, but the Cowboys must also have a great year team wise. The only player to become MVP and not make the playoffs was O.J. Simpson in 1973 with the Buffalo Bills.
For the Cowboys to be a playoff team, they will likely have to ride on the shoulders of their potent offense. This bodes well for Romo's MVP chances, and he has the type of weapons needed to be a prolific passer and put up MVP-type numbers in 2014.
With an improved offensive line, a group of dynamic receivers and one of the most reliable tight ends in the league, Dallas has the kind of offensive firepower that should allow Romo to flourish.
Of course Romo will have to remain healthy to get consideration. And that is a big question mark because of the fact that he has had two back surgeries in less then a year.
However, a healthy Romo has a great opportunity to be recognized as the most valuable player in the NFL.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: DeMarcus Lawrence
DeMarcus Lawrence has the best chance out of every player on the Cowboys' roster to win a postseason award. Lawrence should be one of the favorites to win NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
To win Defensive Rookie of the Year, a rookie needs to be able to play a ton of snaps and be put in situations to make an impact.
With the release of Ware, the weak-side defensive end position will be up for the taking. Lawrence should slide in right away as the starter.
Lawrence should make an immediate impact with his pass rush. Mike Fisher of 105.3 The Fan reported that Cowboys' Assistant Director of Player Personnel Will McCoy told Jerry and Stephen Jones during the NFL draft that Lawrence is a "quarterback hunter."
If Lawrence does indeed prove to be a such a predator during his rookie campaign, he could very well be in the running for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Devin Street
At this time last year nobody would have expected San Diego Chargers' first-year receiver Keenan Allen to be one of the top candidates for the Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, as the 2013 season played out, it was clear that Allen became of the front-runners, eventually finishing second in the AP Rookie of the Year Award and winning the award from Sporting News.
Likewise, Devin Street could be a dark-horse candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2014. One of the biggest reasons the Cowboys selected Street was because he was one of the more pro-ready wide receiver prospects in the 2014 NFL draft.
Street has great hands to go along with great route-running skills. Street should slide into the third wide receiver position, getting playtime in both the slot and outside. His size should make him a matchup nightmare for opposing nickel corners.
With the belief that the Cowboys will have a potent offense in 2014, Street will likely get a significant number of snaps.
Don't be surprised if Street is in the discussion to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year at season's end.
Comeback Player of the Year
A lot of fans may be surprised that the player listed is not Anthony Spencer. After all, he is coming off of microfracture knee surgery. If he has a decent year then he would be on the short list for the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year award.
However, it is looking like Spencer may start the year on the PUP list, meaning the veteran defensive end is to miss the first six games of the regular season, which would end any consideration for such honors.
A Dallas player who has a good opportunity to receive this recognition is Tyrone Crawford. He is coming off a torn Achilles tendon, which ended his season before it started. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo certainly believes Crawford could be primed for a great season. On 105.3 The Fan, Romo said (h/t The Dallas Morning News):
I think Tyrone Crawford is going to be a guy that will be shocking to a lot of people,” Romo said on 105.3 The Fan [KRLD-FM]. “I think if we would have had him last year, it would have been a very different defensive unit.
I think he’s the guy that stands out to me as the first guy that’s going to be very, very difficult to deal with for offenses.
Crawford should see time at strong-side defensive end and 3-technique defensive tackle during the year. He brings the ability to create mismatches at both spots.
If Crawford plays to the level that his teammates say that he will means he will be a prime candidate to win the league's Comeback Player of the Year honors.